Every year in late November, many cities deck the town squares and sell toasty holiday gifts, treats and cider to spread traditional Christmas cheer! Read on for the best of the Christmas markets around the world.
Christkindlesmarkt, Nüremberg, Germany
The Christkindlesmarkt in Nüremberg may well be the most popular Christmas market in Europe (though there is much national pride, argument and discussion around this issue). More than 180 wooden stalls sell traditional handicrafts including Christmas ornaments, toys, games, and holiday snacks/treats. Visitors wander while sipping cups of mulled wine and rum punch, and nibbling traditional local varieties of bratwurst and gingerbread.
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen, Denmark
Every year in November and lasting until December 31, the popular Tivoli Gardens amusement park is decked with bright lights and decorations, and transformed into a traditional Danish Christmas village. More than fifty stalls selling the traditional Christmas handicrafts and treats (like the local spiced wine called glögg and other Danish holiday pastries. The kids will even meet Father Christmas! As a bonus, you can eat like a Dane with the many restaurants in Tivoli offering julefrokost, or Christmas lunch. The can’t-miss feast includes pickled herring, meatballs, roast pork, fried duck, cheese, and rice pudding.
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llúcia market is another showstopper with a long history (it dates back to the 1780’s). More than 280 stalls sell Christmas handicrafts and treats, many by local artisans. There are Catalan dance performances and local choirs to keep you entertained as you wander amongst the vendors hawking Nativity scenes, crafts, handmade clothing and jewelry, natural Christmas trees, and Christmas decorations.
Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto, Canada
Not to be outdone by Europe in the jolly good cheer department, Toronto hosts its wildly poplar Christmas Market in the city’s Distillery Historic District. There’s a beer gardens or hospitality lounge with your name on it, where you can imbibe beer, mulled wine (glühwein), and hot rum drinks. Kids and pets can have their photo professionally snapped with Santa Claus (though special doggie hours are only on Tuesday afternoons). A life-sized gingerbread house, carousel and Ferris wheel are also super popular with the under-12 set.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Tallinn, Estonia
We’re going to tap the Tallinn Christmas Market as a rising star on the Christmas Market scene. It’s truly one of the most picturesque and festive, set in the Town Hall Square, and is open daily until 7pm (though the market’s quirky English-language site promises “hot Christmas drinks” till 11pm). Stalls throughout the market sell mostly local, handcrafted products, and visitors can sample everything from blood sausage (the traditional Christmas dish) to gingerbread.
Christkindlmarket, Chicago, Illinois
Can’t make it across the pond this year? Chicago does a version of Nüremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt in Daley Plaza that’s not too shabby. The market has crafts from local and international vendors, and visitors can sample a variety of German holiday treats including baked apples, stollen, roasted nuts, potato pancakes, and schnitzel. Events include a traditional Christmas lantern procession, and a tree-lighting parade. Don’t forget to bundle up.
We’d also recommend reading through our Holiday Flights page if you need more help booking best days to fly or tips to keep you in a festive mood. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!